Fear is holding me back

I’ve know this for a while. That fear of failure, fear of not making monthly bills, fear of not raising my kids right and not being with them as much as I can, fear of rejection As I said. I’ve known this for a while. I struggle with myself to break the habits that I have built up to shield myself from the perceived pain that those fears imply.

I have failed before. I’ve not been able to pay monthly bills when I was out of work, wracking up debt just to keep our house. It is not something I ever want to face again. Unfortunately, my mechanisms for defending against that have been as bad or worse to my psyche as going through it had been.

I am in the midst of steps to make things better. I have parts of a plan, but more important to my mind, I am acting. One of my methods for coping, and I know other people who use the same, is to just keep going. To shield, to turtle, and to hope for a better tomorrow.

This does work, but not well. It is not what I want.

I want to be able to travel the world. To do the things I love to do: meet with friends, meet new people, write, create things in code and wood, to be a creative and interesting person.

Turtling does not do that. Turtling is boring. I hate being bored, but I have gotten used to being bored. I hate that I have accepted being bored for so long.

So I have been doing all sorts of projects. Finishing some of them, some becoming dusty. Its all been a way to pretend that I am doing a something, when in fact I have not been. I have, over my lifetime, honed the skill of procrastination. I have even been proud of it in the past. I have always been most happiest however when I  under a good stress.

When I was in college, I tore down my single desk, and bought a sheet of plywood to replace it, propped on books and boxes, so my friend Steve and I could work together on projects. I was at my best during those times. Steve, unknowingly, kept me honest with myself. He was there to make sure I didn’t slip, didn’t procrastinate.

I work best with others for that reason. I stay focused. Part of my plan is working on finding people who I work well with. Another part is to not need others to keep focused. Both are not easy, and are taking work to accomplish.

I needed to write this so I could reinforce myself. If it helped you that is both great, and surprising. If it sounds like you, then get up from the computer, put down the phone, and make your plan to break out of that turtle shell. Leave it behind. These are the only days of our lives. I don’t want to be bored for them.

I am now the answer to life the universe and everything.

I tried to get this out on September 27th, when it was actually my birthday, but… well, you know how things go some days.

What has this last year been like? What have I gained? What have I lost? What do I look forward to?

As much as the answer just asked more questions in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, turning 42 is no different.

Over the last year at work, I have worked on several great projects. One for a major sports franchise doing an app for SmartTVs. Another for a major creator of yearbooks and rings. I’ve worked on the Randori framework, an open source project that allows developers to work in the language they like (currently ActionScript is supported), and have  it output to HTML5, with abstractions for allowing designers to now have to touch the code. I worked for a large bank, doing enterprise development work that handled billions of dollars of reporting data. I even wrote a book!

At home, I’ve been writing more, and raising my wonderful daughters. I’ve been working on building a deck, which has been no mean feat so far, maybe I can get that done before I am 43. I’ve been working on a secret project that early in 2014 I can talk about. My father-in-law has moved in with us, and my own parents have moved from Tucson to Indianapolis so we can see them more often as well.

It has been a full year.

So what have I gained and lost?

Time, in both senses. When I started working on the book, I had such a short set of deadlines to get the chapters in that I cut out all of my computer gaming entirely. Since I had been playing the Champions MMO, that had been a not-insignificant change. I miss the people there, and the role-playing of the life of a super hero. I don’t miss the time it took from me though. I am constantly surprised still at the amount of time I have for the rest of my life.

I have less time now too, both in my overall life, and in my day to day. How so for the day to day, David? You just said you have more time since you cut out gaming! Well, yes, but a vacuum likes to be filled. That time was filled with writing, with being more with my kids, with other projects, with going to bed at a reasonable hour. So I do have less time, however, I *feel* better about it than I had been. I have been more productive overall, and that makes me feel that time is well spent. Overall, a net positive.

I have slowed down my pace, though if you look at the list of things to do I seem to have increased. The difference has been focus. Doing one thing for a span of time, rather than trying to multitask, has been the key. Right now I am writing, but I have my laser engraver, my deck, and my secret project to work on today. Right now, I am writing, not doing all of those. Which has been the key to getting things done for me, your mileage may vary, but it works for me. It’s why you will see this post, instead of having it sit as a draft for another month.

What do I look forward to?

This year, everything. Life right now is really good. I’m employed, I have a great family, and the projects I am doing have been things have scratched a Maker itch that has been pestering me for a long time now. There aren’t many clouds on the horizon, and I hope that it stays that way. I have always believed that people make their own fate, though I have not always followed that belief. Now however, I am. I have the reigns firmly in hand, and I am controlling this horse called life.

What do I have planned for this year?

Good question! I have a lot of things planned. Not all of them will get done, but I will get to them as time allows. I plan on finishing the laser engraver within the next month or so, as long as nothing further goes awry (more on that in a future post). The deck certainly needs work. I am planning on writing a series of short books on 3D printing, now that the first one is out I realize there is a lot more that I can say on the matter to help people get into the hobby side of things. The secret project definitely needs work. I had a breakthrough late last week, and it was what I needed to get my enthusiasm for it ramped back up.

On the horizon is editing the fiction book I co-wrote with Katherine Guevara-Birmelin, working title of Sky and Storms. It’s massive, and written over email, so it has a *HUGE* amount of editing to do. I have a setting for another fiction novel in my head, spawned by the fallout from having to cancel Vegas After Midnight. Mick still has the fire in him to get his version out, and I encourage you to check it out.

From my desk here in the basement (moved here since the office is now the father-in-law room) I hear the pitter patter of little feet upstairs, which sound much larger than they used to only a few years ago, I know I need to wrap this up. Until next time, so long, and thanks for all the fish!

Making your own positives in the face of negatives.

Things have been rather up and down for me lately. Overall, on the up side luckily, but still too much up and down for what I like.

Ups:

  • I have a writing project that is nearing completetion that I will talk about soon.
  • At work, I am on a new client project that is challenging and has engaged my mind. Always a good thing.
  • I’ve continued to enjoy my reintroduction to woodworking, and have made great strides in cleaning up the shop.
  • The team that I helped put together is both awesome and supportive in the trouble that the project (below) has encountered.

Downs:

  • Vegas After Midnight, is a project that I have been working on in my head for years, and had assembled a great team recently to bring it about had to be shut down. If you want more details on that, I talked about it on http://vegasaftermidnight.net.
  • My deck continues to be a struggle to start. Today I finally am able to have someone over to dig the holes for the footings, and… it rains.
  • My 3D printer still has not arrived. The Eventorbot Kickstarter shipping is still happening, so I know that I will get it eventually. It’s just when that eventually is going to happen that is the most frustrating.

As I said, more ups than downs. I’d like things to be a bit more up, but life is life. I’m moving on with it and looking forward to making more up times.

When I have completed the edits and sent them into the editor, I’ll let you all know more about the writing project. I will tell you it’s up my alley with one of the things I am known to tinker with.

Once the holes are dug, I will be getting the building inspector out to look at them and then setting the footings for the deck.

Since Vegas After Midnight isn’t going to be happening, I have some other thoughts in my head to do.

I haven’t forgotten about the laser cutter either. I got the laser in, and I need to wire up a control circuit to turn it on and off using the Arduino. Once that is done, I’ll do some test cuts and post them here. Assuming success with that, I have the base of a larger version already started to allow me to make larger sized cutouts.

So again, things are up. The rain has let up, and the diggers are back at work. I’m going to go downstairs and help my daughter with a very tricky video game problem in Lego Star Wars. So if you will excuse me, I’ll be working on one of those high points in life.

Inspiration

As I am embarking on new creative endeavors, and rekindling older ones, this comes along at just the right time.

Neil Gaiman – Inspirational Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts 2012

Create. Write. Make. Do. Be.